Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Creole Cuisine seafood class March 23rd

The theme for this month’s seafood class was Creole Cuisine so I knew I was in for some spice. We started out with oysters (paired with a sparkling wine) that came with a side of tasty jalapeño sauce - a flavorful upgrade from just tossing hot sauce on ‘em.

Next came oysters wrapped in bacon, also known as “angels on horseback”. Not sure why. I wasn’t sure which one was the angel and which one was the horse either. I was thinking maybe it should have been “angels on a piggy”? Anyway, I took the bacon off so as not to ruin the oyster part but everyone else seemed to love the combination. Luckily, my friend Ellen was there to rescue me and took my bacon away!

We finally moved on to some meatier courses after that and I have to admit that I had a hard time picking my favorite from the last three courses.

The etouffee was delicious and had quite a kick and was paired with a refreshing Riesling.

After that we took a spice break with a simple salmon filet. So soft it melted in my mouth! Michael was a little daring and paired it with a pinot noir (a red!) from Australia.

And the last course was Shrimp & Sausage gumbo. The spice was more manageable in this course and it was paired with a strong Chenin Blanc from France.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Comfort Foods and Restaurant Reviews

I finally made it back to a Provisions class with STLwinegirl, Angela Ortmann. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time for classes these days. Whole Foods is no longer hosting my favorite cheese classes so I’ve been really bummed about that. At least Seafood class is coming up next week.

Angela came up with a really interesting menu with the theme of “Comfort Foods” so it was everyone’s favorites…but with a little spin…and paired with wine of course.

We started with Fish Tacos and they were covered in shreaded cheese! This was paired with a 2008 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. This wine had a screw cap and I learned that how you store the wine is not near as important as one with a cork, but it still doesn’t keep as long since no oxygen can seep in as with a cork. So no aging! But then again, no cork rot either, which has a 10% chance. Anyway, this wine is only harvested at night when it’s cooler so there is less stress on the wine.

My favorite pairing was probably the Breaded, Baked, and Bacon Mac and Cheese. If there had been no bacon, it would have been perfect, but I can’t escape Angela’s class without SOME bacon. This was paired with a 2008 Four Wines “Naked” Chardonnay. Turns out that “Naked” means that it is not stored in oak barrels but stainless steel, which in turn makes the Chardonnay a lot less full or buttery. More of a calm finish.

The next two pairings were chicken and dumplings with 2005 Domaine Alain Michelo Bourgogne from Burgandy and a stuffed meatloaf with a 2006 Estancia Meritage from California. Both were red wines that were too strong for me and the food did hold up against them. The chicken and dumplings were at least thick and creamy but the meatloaf was way too bland for the tannins in the Meritage.

We finished the class with apple pie and caramel with a 2002 Blossom Late Harvest Riesling. Normally I like all Rieslings but this was a “dessert wine” and extremely sweet. For those who REALLY know me, know that I like chocolate sauce on my fruit pies and that would have helped match up against the wine in this case. Definitely too sweet to be drank regularly.
In addition to the “Comfort Foods” class, I have also been to a few great restaurants recently that I highly recommend.

First, I went to SubZero (http://www.subzerovodkabar.com/) in the Central West End, right across from Drunken Fish, which is a little strange location since I’ve only heard about SubZero for their sushi, in addition to their vodka drinks. I thought the sushi was fantastic and I ordered a citrus-flavored vodka drink. I admit that I love “foo-foo” sweet tasting drinks and they had plenty of them! And for vegetarians, they even had no-meat pot stickers.

This past week I went to the Boathouse in Forest Park for the first time and every Thursday from November until April, they host a “shrimp boil” for $16 per person! Each meal comes with soup or salad to start out with (salad was really sweet but I didn’t like the spicy white bean soup flavor) . Then the main course comes out on a huge plate all mixed together: andouille sausage, potato wedges, and GIANT shrimp!! These were the biggest shrimp I have ever eaten. And I couldn’t finish them either. Got to have quite a delicious meal the next day too!

Last weekend I went to Sasha’s Wine bar on Shaw (http://www.sashaswinebar.com/), which is much bigger than the location in Clayton. It was not too crowded at 8pm but really hoppin’ by 10pm. In addition to the extremely large wine list, I was really impressed with their menu, which had quite a few choices for light meals. Of course I was stoked to find SIX different cheese plates to choose from! We ordered the World Tour and the French plate. Everything I had was fantastic!

For my main course, I thought I’d try something different and ordered a Triple Crème Brie, Apple and Mango Chutney crepe. It was delicious. And the chef was nice enough to make a mistake and make us a second one! I hope that was because we bought two bottles of wine…first an Argentinean cabernet and then a Chilean pinot noir. I definitely cannot wait to go back!